As important to guests as the scenic views or luxury amenities, restaurants at resorts become a defining factor for the entire operation. In fact, food and beverage service is often the tipping point for why consumers choose one vacation spot over another. From the Rocky Mountains to the Florida waterfront, resort hotels create differentiated experiences for guests and locals alike, often with a focus on elaborate outdoor settings and, even with interior dining rooms, drawing inspiration from their surroundings.
When it opened Kuro restaurant in 2015, the Seminole Hard Rock Resort felt something was missing from both the resort and the South Florida market. Kuro has filled that void with its unique menu and inviting ambiance.
The menu promotes family-style kaiseki dining, with dishes intended to share that are all built upon classic Japanese techniques.
Upon arriving at Kuro, guests are immersed in the open, theater-style design. The 9,500-square-foot restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the resort’s tropical pool and create the sense of al fresco dining.
Executive chef Alex Becker designs menus that start with lighter fare and progress to spicier, heavier, and richer dishes. “Each dish is designed with sharing in mind and can stand on its own but also complement the rest of the menu,” Becker says. “Our servers are trained to tailor the menu to each particular table. By taking into consideration the likes and preferences of each guest, our team can deliver a customized experience every time.”
Kuro’s beverage program is as complex as Becker’s dishes, with selections such as Japanese whiskeys, shōchū, 25 sake brands, and a cocktail menu that is divided into five categories based on the five flavor profiles: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
Along with Kuro, Seminole Hard Rock also operates Council Oak—a steakhouse offering dry-aged meats, seafood, and an extensive wine list. Guests can peek into the butcher shop through a glass wall in the restaurant. All meats are butchered in-house, and Council Oak dry ages the cuts for 28 days.
Chef Brian Doyle says the smoked Wagyu beef tartare—made from a blend of Japanese and American beef that has been mixed with shallots and capers and topped with a quail egg before being lightly smoked—is one of the most popular dishes.
Like Kuro, Council Oak puts an emphasis on beverage service, offering its One Ounce Club, which allows guests to sample exclusive liquors in 1-ounce increments. Selections vary and often include special editions, such as Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year, Johnnie Walker Blue Label “Year of the Monkey,” and Macallan 30-Year-Old Fine Oak.
Council Oak also has a tableside cocktail program designed to showcase the process of beverage creation. Sommelier Juan Horta’s wine menu contains nearly 400 selections representing more than a dozen countries.
The 15-property portfolio of Noble House Hotel and Resorts spans various regions from Wyoming to Florida, and each restaurant is as diverse as the area it inhabits. Whether it’s a seafood-centric menu for waterfront dining at The Edgewater’s Six Seven restaurant in Seattle, or Colorado cuisine amid canyon views at the Entrada Restaurant in Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa, guests can expect a localized experience.
“None of our restaurants feature the same menu; nothing is cookie-cutter at Noble House,” says Thomas Haas, the company’s vice president of food and beverage.
Attracting locals, in addition to the resort guests, is vital to each restaurant’s success, so Noble House sets the goal for each restaurant to be viewed as a top, independent establishment.
“We never measure ourselves against other hotels in our markets because we want to be players among the best local restaurants,” Haas says. “Our happening lounges and bars, combined with the cuisine, are on par with the best restaurants—and are the reason we have a 50/50 ratio of hotel guests and locals in some locations, and an even higher local capture in others.”
Under the guidance of Noble House’s corporate chef, the chef at each location sources ingredients from the area. “We are blessed with an extraordinary beachfront location, and the landscape not only provides wonderful views, but is also a fantastic source for many of our menu items,” says Chef John Sexton of La Playa’s Baleen restaurant in Naples, Florida. “The restaurant, while remaining seafood-centric, revolves its offerings around these tropical surroundings.”
At the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, California, there are eight dining options that span global cuisines from Mexico to Southern Italy.
Anchored by a display kitchen and decorated with colorful Spanish-style tiles and marble accents under vaulted ceilings, the Mission Inn Restaurant serves comfort food in a casual setting, as well as a Champagne Sunday Brunch, with seating inside or on the al fresco Spanish patio. The Las Campanas restaurant focuses on authentic Mexican cuisine and margaritas, while Bella Trattoria offers dishes from Southern Italy, brick-oven-cooked Napolitano-style pizzas, and pasta.
The Mission Inn’s flagship restaurant, Duane’s Prime Steak and Seafood, offers a vast wine menu along with wet-aged steaks and fresh seafood. Inside the restaurant, amber tones complement the location’s central art piece—an 8-foot by 6-foot painting, Charge Up San Juan Hill, depicting Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. The Mission Inn also houses The Presidential Lounge, a jazz bar that has welcomed 10 U.S. presidents. The cocktail menu touts a JFK Cosmopolitan and a Herbert Hoover Lemon Drop.
Even though The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is nearly 100 years old, it has not fallen into a culinary routine. The resort’s 10 diverse restaurants include contemporary European cuisine in the fine-dining setting of the Penrose Room, al fresco Italian dining at Ristorante del Lago, and French-inspired dishes at Summit.
Inspired by the Colorado setting, Broadmoor executive chef David Patterson conceptualized the resort’s menus for its all-inclusive Wilderness Experiences, which allow guests to explore the region through exotic settings—like fly fishing excursions or the Cloud Camp, which sits 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor and offers everything from mule rides to cooking classes.
When developing Restaurant 1858, a Broadmoor dining venue located on the banks of Seven Falls, Patterson and his team incorporated the local miner heritage of Cheyenne Canyon, with dishes like green chili made with wild boar and Rocky Mountain trout cooked in a cast iron skillet.